On the face of it, freelancing and parenting should go together like ice cream and chocolate sprinkles. After all, how many jobs allow you to go to little Johnny’s school play without taking leave, guaranteed ‘tickle breaks’, and hours that fit in perfectly around the school day?
That’s what many parents-to-be naively imagine, anyway.
“When I first started working at home we were planning on having our first kid. I actually thought, ‘This’ll be perfect because I’ll work at home and can be around my kids.’ I had no idea how hard it would be!” says father-of-two writer Greg Scott.
What people without kids often don’t appreciate is that children are a full-time job in themselves. Trying to work on top of that can stretch you just too thin.
Mother-of-four writer and SEO Affiliate marketer Rachel McNaught agrees.
In 2013 parenting full-time and running a business are career options. Both need 110% of your time and energy and both require you to have a great team of people around you. The bigger your business and the more kids you have, the more help you need. Most people who launch into both without understanding this fail at one or the other. That may sound horribly cheesy and negative, but is the reality.
But for parents who make it work, freelancing really can offer a fantastic work-life balance. Exactly how you make it work for you will depend on your personal circumstances, but here are some solutions to the challenges facing freelancing parents. Continue Reading
Okay, bloggers, we see you out there. Writing great thoughts while wearing your pajamas. And then you post them online for everyone to admire.
Well, how’s that for stereotyping? Portraying bloggers as a bunch of lazy slacktivists who can’t even bother to get dressed.
The truth is, bloggers are among the most socially engaged people on the planet. To recognize their efforts, there is the annual Blog Action Day.
First observed in 2007, Blog Action Day celebrates the power of bloggers as a force for good. Previous Blog Action Days have focused on Environment, Poverty, Climate Change, Water, and Food.
The 2012 theme is “The Power of We.” According to the event organizers, this year’s theme was chosen for two reasons:
- The popularity of community, equality, transparency/anti-corruption and freedom in the Blog Action Day theme poll.
- Recognition of people working to make a positive difference for people they know or for people they may never meet.
The “Power of We” is a fitting theme, as global interest in worker issues and the positive contributions of unions is on the rise. With these thoughts in mind, let’s turn to a New York City-based union that is working to better the lives of freelancers.
Noting that freelancers are now one of every three American workers – or 42 million people – the Freelancers Union was formed “to build smarter solutions to health care, retirement, wage security, and other broken systems.” Continue Reading
If you’ve ever been a college or university faculty member, you’re probably familiar with sabbaticals. You remain on your institution’s payroll while taking time away from campus to do things related to your work. Might be conducting research. Or writing a book.
Outside academia, there are a few private companies that offer paid sabbaticals for top employees. And that’s it.
But people are still taking sabbaticals – even if they’re not on an academic or corporate payroll. Let’s look at at how they’re doing it and how you can too. Continue Reading
Ahh, location independence. Freelancing offers no greater perk than the freedom to travel. We lucky souls can roam the Earth at leisure, while our cubicle-dwelling cousins spend 48 weeks of the year chained to a desk.
In my humble opinion, every freelancer should take a working sabbatical at some point in their career. Just pack the laptop and go. Transplant the home office to a mysterious foreign land with nice weather, great food and cheap booze. It’s an opportunity too good to miss.
Can’t afford it? Good news: You don’t need to. Just about any freelancer can take a long-term working holiday at no expense. Without dipping into your savings or racking up debt, you can venture off into the great unknown for as long as you damn well please. Continue Reading
Do you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur?
Sure, you may call yourself a freelancer, designer, writer, consultant or creative professional.
But deep down inside, do you also think of yourself as an entrepreneur?
Believe it or not, your answer to that question is a fairly good predictor of your value in the marketplace. It’s also highly correlated to your overall level of joy and happiness as a solo professional.
That was one of several surprising findings in our recently published study on freelancing, the 2012 Freelance Industry Report. According to this detailed, 70-page analysis of 1,491 freelancers from around the world, 72% of freelancers consider themselves to be entrepreneurs. Continue Reading
As freelancers in creative fields we’re faced with a unique situation. That is, the combination of art (or creativity) and business. We need to use our left and right brains to the maximum, each with the same amount of effort and dedication every day.
There’s not a lot of average jobs in the world that require such attention to two seemingly opposing fields. But then again, we’re not average.
Having the ability to conceptualize a client’s vision and turn it into a well-crafted piece, you should have no problem bridging the gaps between the art and business realms of your freelancing career.
The truth is, combining and balancing your art (that is, whatever you create with a deep interest or passion) with smart business sense (that is, marketing and selling your art or creative services to paying clients) just takes some focus and effort.
The first step is figuring out which mindset you’re already in – the artistic or the business mindset, and then you’ll need to learn to balance these mindsets to optimize your success.
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
I remember hearing that quote a few years ago and having someone tell me it was Gandhi that originally said it. And since it sounded like something Gandhi might indeed have said, I believed it. But here’s the kicker. It wasn’t. It was actually motivational speaker, Wayne Dyer.
It probably doesn’t really matter in the long run, but my guess is that it would carry a little more weight coming from the iconic purveyor of Indian nationalism rather than a middle aged white guy with an affinity for meditation. Nevertheless, the idea is a good one. Change your perspective. Look at things differently. See your world in a new light in order to gain fresh insights and, most importantly, evolve.
In the competitive and sometimes unforgiving world of freelance writing, regularly changing the way you look at your work keeps you sane. Rejection is hard. Not landing an assignment you really wanted is disappointing. And looking at the dwindling bank account can sometimes be discouraging enough to contemplate updating your resume, polishing up those dusty wingtips, and heading back to the corporate world.
But all is not lost. Most of the time all we need is a unique perspective, a new set of eyeglasses to view our freelance business with. Here are three techniques to keep in mind when trying to look at your freelance work in a new light. Continue Reading
Creativity is the result of how you think. Practicing the habits of creative thinking allows you to break the barrier of what’s achievable. Better freelancing skills, better clients, and the ability to get through tough situations are just a few of the things creative thinking brings.
According to a global study by Adobe, “only 1 in 4 believe they are living up to their creative potential.” That’s a sad fact due to what’s truly possible. But what’s the good news here? Well, freelancers know how important the strive for creativity is. Plus we have the opportunity to create all day long.
Whether you’re stuck in a creative rut or you want to maximize your creative thinking potential, here are the habits of creative thinkers to learn from.
1. Learn Something New Every Day
There’s one simple fact you need to know in order to succeed. In order to have the life you want. To live beyond the confined space of so-called life. And to spark your imagination so you can do the best work possible.
Here it is.
“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. You can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use.” – Steve Jobs
Well said Mr. Jobs. Well said.
Creative minds don’t let other’s achievements affect their own creation of something remarkable. If you think you can’t do something – write a novel, code a website, or make a product you believe people will need – think again. Think about the fact that everything you see right now was created by someone. Did they have some sort of superpower?
No. They were a creative thinker who practiced the habits of creative thinking truly and passionately.
I often hear from new graduates, new freelancers, and new business people that they have a bunch of great ideas and they have things passions they love to do (writing, designing, etc), but they have no actual experience.
This is often a huge stumbling block when it comes to applying for jobs or selling yourself to your very first clients.
Here’s how to overcome this problem and become a rock star in your field:
- Do not wait for permission to do the work you love. Do not wait for that coveted degree, do not wait until you have the right credentials, and do not wait until the “powers that be” (whoever that is) say you are ready to become a (fill in the blank with your chosen profession). Starting today, you are that professional, unless of course, a degree or certification is legally required. Fortunately, for most freelance professionals this isn’t the case.
Read, study, and learn about your chosen profession. With so many learning opportunities available, there is no reason that you can’t pick up a book, watch a video, or take a class online to garner more knowledge and skills that will help you in your chosen profession.
You don’t need a professor telling you that you need to learn X on this day or read chapter five by tomorrow. Take the initiative to learn something every day in order to improve your skills.
- You should be doing the work you love every day, in some way or form. If you are a writer, write. If you are a web designer, design a website even if it will never see the light of day. If you are a photographer, go photograph something. Your work as a professional doesn’t begin when you graduate or when you get a job, it begins NOW.
It can be kind of easy to get into a rut as a freelancer. I mean your sofa is well worn and your daily habits are well set.
As you talk to the bigwigs of XYZ Company on Skype who will know you are wearing bunny slippers?
As a freelancer, one of the best things I have ever done to improve myself, as well as my business, is to travel as often as possible. Here’s why:
You never know who you will meet. You might end up next to a top CEO on a plane, share a basket of bread with a globe-trotting entrepreneur in India, or strike up a conversation with a small business owner while waiting in line for a Vegas show.
Any one of these people can become future business contacts for you, and, if nothing else, the short conversation you share with them could make a lasting impression on you and your business.
- You never know what you will learn. One day I was hanging out in a coffee shop near a major conference center when a guy sat down next to me and started chatting. Turns out his startup just got $14 million in VC funding. Needless to say, I had a lot of questions for him about the ins and outs of his business as well as the ins and outs of working with venture capitalists.
- You will get out of your rut and so will your thinking. Your mind doesn’t have to work very hard when you do the same things every day. Now flip the switch and begin your day with congee in a café in China, tasting chicken feet for the first time during a dim sum lunch, and watching an incredible acrobatics show in Shanghai. Suddenly your brain starts working overtime to process all of the new sights, sounds, and experiences (this is a good thing for you and your work).
Leadership is often over-estimated.
It is over-estimated because many assume being a leader consumes much of a person’s time and effort. This mentality, however, often defeats leadership.
Many great leaders must have balance, along with a few other key aspects in their lives, to become someone that others want to follow. Becoming a leader within your freelancing industry can be as simple as making sure to incorporate the 3 key elements discussed below into your daily life. Continue Reading
Last week I had a brilliant idea: I would teach my 3-year-old son to use the digital camera! Then he would learn a valuable skill! And become a famous photographer!
As you can tell, I was pretty excited.
So I showed T-Rex how to hold the camera, and look through the viewfinder at what he wanted to take a picture of, and press the button. I wrapped the carry cord around his wrist so he wouldn’t drop the camera and let him loose, first inside and then outside. Continue Reading